Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Bouncing Back”

Well my friends, Agents of SHIELD is back, off and running for the second half of season 3, and unlike previous years we already know our beloved show will be back again in the fall! It’s been a while since I covered SHIELD here on, thanks both to an Agent Carter-filled midseason hiatus and the fact that I was travelling for the final two episodes of the fall. I’m going to take it easy with the episode reactions for the rest of the season. Taking copious notes definitely makes watching the episodes less enjoyable, and then I put a lot of stress on myself to write a worthy review/recap. I love this show a lot, and I’d rather enjoy it and talk about it more casually than go all out and turn each episode into a slog. Besides, the main point of these articles is that they’re a chance to interact with y’all and chat about my favorite show on TV. And since, in all honesty, only a few people read these regularly (they know who they are, and I hope they know how much I appreciate them!) I don’t want SHIELD to dominate the time I spend on my blog. Having said all of that, the spring premiere gave us a look at the show’s new direction now that some loose ends have been tied up, as well as teasing some of the larger conflicts to come throughout the rest of the season. So let’s jump into “Bouncing Back” written by Monica Owusu-Breen and directed by Ron Underwood (whom I just found out directed Tremors! Who knew?).

But first, I have to hit the highlights from the winter finale. I was totally shocked when Rosalind Price was killed. Although I didn’t expect her to survive and hang around forever on the show, the suddenness and cruelty of Ward’s assassination of her was shocking. And of course, Ward wasn’t done yet, torturing Simmons in order to get information about the portal from her and Fitz. Watching Fitz’s face as she screamed was absolutely heartbreaking. And as brutal as it was to watch Coulson crush Ward to death, I’m honestly glad he’s gone. And the best part is that Brett Dalton can hang around on the show but I can still sleep better at night knowing that Ward is no more. Grant Ward was such a fascinating character, and he could be polarizing among the fans, but I think it was time for the show to be rid of him. He went fully over to the “dark side”, and I’d given up hope of any redemption for the character a while ago. As for other developments, I wasn’t surprised that Will’s been dead since Simmons left, and I’m happy that the love triangle aspect of FitzSimmons’ relationship won’t be dragged out any more. I’m sure Fitz is conflicted about “killing” Will, especially knowing how much it would hurt Simmons, but Will was dead long before he got there. As for the rest of those episodes, my favorite moment might be Coulson’s daredevil jump into the portal at the last second, which earned a big cheer from me once I finally got around to watching it. I also applaud the show for basically rewriting the history of HYDRA by making the organization’s ultimate goal the recovery of “It”, the being currently in possession of Ward’s body. I doubt it’ll have any bearing on the film universe, but it’s still a big retcon for the MCU even if the average moviegoer never notices.

Anyway, back to this week’s episode. It’s interesting to me the way Agents of SHIELD has seemingly circled back around to its roots. When the show started, it had this “mystery of the week” style to it, where Coulson’s team would investigate some strange object or event and deal with it. Now we seem to have returned to that style, except the mysteries all revolve around Inhumans, and Daisy and Mack are now in charge of that aspect of the show, leaving Coulson and May to deal with larger threats. The Inhumans offer a really great storytelling box for the show, since it allows for so much variety. People complained in the early days that there were no superheroes on the show, and now it looks like most of our episodes in the near future will revolve around superpowered individuals. But with the Inhuman epidemic spreading throughout the world, we’re bound to encounter a wide variety not only of powers but of individuals who use those powers. Some will be renegade heroes like Elena Rodriguez/Yo-Yo, while others will undoubtedly be villains in need of stopping.

I enjoyed Elena’s story, both due to the strength of her character but also the quality of the writing. I liked how the team’s expectations were upended, as they went from believing Elena was stealing weapons to use them to discovering her desire to destroy them. Of course, the bad guys had a Medusa-like Inhuman of their own, capable of freezing people with just a look, and it really drove home how random Terrigenesis has become and the different ways people will use their newfound powers. I liked seeing the Secret Warriors team in action (are they actually calling themselves that yet?), especially with Joey getting in on the action and melting the contents of the armory into a useless ball of scrap. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of Elena Rodriguez, not only because she was a fun addition to the show and has a good chemistry with Mack, but there’s also the fact that we know she’ll turn up again thanks to the episode’s opening moments.

Seriously, how cool was that first shot? I love that SHIELD is still trying new things, and a flashforward to three months down the line was certainly something we haven’t seen before. We’re clearly meant to assume that that was Elena on the SHIELD ship wearing a SHIELD uniform in space with alarms going off, thanks to the shot of crucifix she wears in the present day floating weightless through the ship. But as we didn’t see a face, there’s no way for sure. If it’s not Elena, who else could it be? I’m going to make a wild prediction and say we were looking at Mack, to whom Elena gave her necklace either to protect him on a mission or Mack took it in her memory after some sort of horrible future accident. I’m smelling a red herring here, but regardless of whether Elena is the one to end up in space or not we’re still left with quite the mystery ahead of us.

One final note on Elena, I really appreciated SHIELD working her faith into the story. Very few shows of this sort spend much time talking about faith, as it’s usually left for more hardcore sci-fi shows that deal with deeper themes or straight dramas as a part of some conflict between characters. It makes complete sense that some people would assume their powers come from God, even in the face of the fact that they literally came from fish. There hasn’t been much discussion of faith in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (beyond Captain America’s line in The Avengers “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.”), but there’s no reason that SHIELD can’t work faith into the show. I loved that Mack used his faith as a way to connect with Elena, which is of course one of the great powers of faith in our world, and that it was such a personal moment for him. But even more interesting was when Lincoln pointed out that Inhuman powers aren’t necessarily random, that he was taught that each power is given to fill a particular evolutionary need at the time, to create equilibrium. Is it possible that the Inhumans are a part of some intelligent design, or that there’s some pattern to the powers that have arisen? If so, who is doing the designing?

Oh FitzSimmons, you know how to break my heart don’t you? Their “starting over” scene just killed me. They’re both somewhat tormented by the events they’ve survived this season, and I think starting over fresh as friends without the burdens they carry is a great idea. I want these two to get back to a point where they’re finishing each other’s sentences and are a team (before eventually getting together as a couple, of course). They’ve been through so much together and separately, and this new beginning gives them a path back towards some sort of normalcy. Simmons telling Fitz how extraordinary he’s been throughout this whole mess just ripped me up inside, as did their little fistbump at the end. I just want them to be happy, is that too much to ask?

Coulson, meanwhile, is dealing with the larger threat of the season, hoping to track down Gideon Malick and put an end to his schemes. He got no help from the President, who gave him authority to do whatever needs to be done to deal with Inhumans while appointing Talbot as the public face of the ATCU. I somehow doubt Talbot will like having to answer to Coulson. Coulson dug young Von Strucker out of the hospital to try and recover his memories about Gideon in the hopes of finding a path to him, and was rewarded eventually by a quick phone call to the HYDRA head. The call didn’t reveal much, but it definitely hammered home the Coulson vs Malick war that is coming throughout the rest of the season. Malick, meanwhile is still figuring out what to do with “It,” the mysterious Inhuman inhabiting Ward’s body. (As a side note, Brett Dalton looks creepy as hell at the moment.) We know from interviews that “It” is actually Hive, a character from the comics who was a creation of HYDRA made up of parasites. We don’t yet know how this new version of Hive’s powers will compare to those from the comics, but I can’t imagine whatever he was up to at the end with his dissolving hand is a good thing.

Boy was that final scene between May and Coulson emotional. For starters, Coulson has a new hand, one that looks like flesh but with still with some tricks up its sleeve. He’s more than a little unsure of himself, especially after what happened on the planet Maveth, but May still believes in him. When she told him, “You joined the Cavalry,” I almost lost it. If anyone can understand Coulson’s pain it’s May. They’ve both been through so much, together and separately, and I think they’re now in an even better position to help each other. I have some romantic hopes for these two, but mostly I want them to be able to lean on each other. And with Andrew/Lash still out there, their personal demons could definitely come back to haunt them. But mostly, I imagine Clark Gregg is just happy he doesn’t have to wear a glove all the time anymore.

I got a kick out of Bobbi and Hunter admitting that they’d taken some fish oil pills in the hopes of gaining powers and Mack’s exasperation with the pair of them. The more time these two spend together the more I like their chemistry, and the more encouraged I am about the possibility that we might one day get a spinoff show featuring them. But that small moment was also a reminder that some of our main cast could potentially be Inhumans. I mean, obviously, because two of them are, but I mean more of them. I guess we can rule out Bobbi and Hunter, but anyone who hasn’t had some fish lately might still have some Inhuman genes inside them and might one day get powers. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else becomes an Inhuman before the end of the season (my money is on Fitz or Simmons), perhaps when they least expect it.

Oh, and Daisy and Lincoln are still kissing. I honestly don’t have a strong feeling about this either way. I’m not a big fan of Lincoln, but if Daisy is happy then that’s a good thing. I’m curious to see where it goes, but I’m not exactly rooting for them as a couple, and I don’t think they have stellar chemistry. Plus Lincoln seems like a bit of a loose cannon to me, and I don’t exactly trust him yet. We’ll see, I guess.

What do you think? Are you excited that SHIELD is back? Did you enjoy Agent Carter during the hiatus? (I personally thought season 2 was a big improvement on season 1.) Were you surprised that SHIELD was renewed for season 4 so soon? What’d you think of “Bouncing Back”? Who was/will be in the SHIELD spaceship (quinjet?)? Did you like Elena/Yo-Yo? Do you like the show’s newest direction dealing with the “Inhuman problem”? Will FitzSimmons ever get together as a couple? What are Malick and Hive really up to? What secrets does Coulson’s new hand hold? How will he and Talbot get along? Are any other members of Coulson’s team Inhumans? What do you think about Carl Creel returning next week? Where do you stand on Lincoln? Did you like the show working in Mack’s faith, or would you rather them leave that sort of thing out? How do you think the show is preparing for Captain America: Civil War? Let me know in the comments!

2 thoughts on “Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Bouncing Back”

  1. I’m so glad you commented on this episode! I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Not that I thought I was going to hate it, just that there was a lot of new information going into this episode with plenty of different angles. We still have all the characters we know and love (or hate), but there are plenty of new points that will last the rest of the season.

    Starting with Elena Rodriguez. I was looking forward to her since she was rumored months ago. Yo-Yo Rodriguez is probably the best Secret Warrior in the comics behind Daisy Johnson to me, not because of her powers but because she seems to be the one character who has some joy in her abilities. A lot of details have changed for her character to the screen, but that was one thing I’m so glad they kept. I enjoy seeing superheroes who seem to relish in doing good and stopping evil, and Elena’s the first one on the show to do it in a while. Didn’t you see her expression when Daisy said she was her new best friend? I also liked the way they’ve ingratiated her not only with her clear faith which is hardly seen in a clear and positive light these days but her language as well. So many people were impressed that they incorporated her as a native-speaking Hispanic with little English skills, but she was no less intelligent or capable as the rest of the group. And they made extensive circumstances to try and bridge the language gap. SHIELD’s always been good in its diversity and female characterization, and Yo-Yo’s proof of that. In other news, before this episode aired, I just knew that they’d incorporate Yo-Yo as nickname from Mack, and no one deserves some loving more than him at this point.

    However, I’m gonna have to agree with you that I think Mack’s the one on that ship. It only makes too much sense to me that Elena would give her cross to Mack before having him risk his life on a dangerous suicide mission. That would be the situation where Mack would need the most faith, and I can’t think of another person who would have her necklace unless they wanted to purposely mislead us. I’m not saying that’s impossible, but it hopefully has some meaning there.

    There were also a bunch of fun details I enjoyed about the episode, especially the scene with the Secret Warriors. I hope they’re called that again eventually (Andrew referred to the group in 3.02, but that’s about it), but I liked seeing them take on that Inhuman. Interesting note, I feel that the Inhuman could have been inspired by The Gorgon, who has the power to turn people to stone and had a memorable encounter with Yo-Yo Rodriguez which caused the latter to lose her arms. These are more like things that I think about on my own, but I personally think they fit. Similarly, Lincoln seems to be going down the path of J.T. Slade in the Secret Warriors, a superhero who’s less devoted to SHIELD or the cause than he is to Daisy. Considering J.T. goes on to betray SHIELD to Hydra in an attempt to protect Daisy, that doesn’t bode well for Lincoln, but again, I could see his character doing it.

    The introduction to the Hive was also interesting since he appears to be different from Ward. It’s an interesting new character to see onscreen, though I am curious to see what his intentions are. Plenty of people believe that his abilities will have something to do with controlling other Inhumans, as hinted by his comments that they “will” believe him. It would go in mind with his name the Hive under the concept of a “hive” mind and would certainly create an interesting conflict for SHIELD gathering a group of superheroes who want to do good. Also, I really just want to see Daisy against the hive. That would be satisfying.

    I also loved the “You joined the Calvary” line. Even though May didn’t have a big role in this episode, she had a clear presence, and she’s often at her best when she’s helping Coulson. She’s going to have to go through a lot this last half, but it’s nice to see that people remember Melinda May at her best. Sorry this is long, but every time I think I’m done there’s another thought that pops into my head! One last one, the fist bump between FitzSimmons was actually ad-libbed between Iain and Elizabeth according to the writer. It was adorable and hopefully signifies a bit less conflict between the two for a while.


  2. Pingback: Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “The Inside Man” | The Love Pirate

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